Focal femoral inlay resurfacing has been developed for the treatment of full-thickness chondral defects of the knee. This technique involves implanting a defect-sized metallic or ceramic cap that is anchored to the subchondral bone through a screw or pin. The use of these experimental caps has been advocated in middle-aged patients who have failed nonoperative methods or biological repair techniques and are deemed unsuitable for conventional arthroplasty because of their age. This paper outlines the implant design, surgical technique and biomechanical principles underlying their use. Outcomes following implantation in both animal and human studies are also reviewed.